Kert’s Cutting Room Critique: Top Indie Game Trailers of October 2013

There’s been so many cool indie game trailers coming out the past few weeks I decided to do a little roundup and commentary of some of the best ones I’ve seen. I’ll try to explain why they work so well and discuss some suggestions that may have improved some aspects of the trailers.

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Proteus PS3/Vita Trailer

The trailer for Proteus’s PS3/Vita launch is wonderful. It tries to show the viewer how easy it is to get lost into Proteus’s world…

Like: Love the live action and the way the player is moving through different environments. Great, simple cure concept that’s easy to follow. Sets the tone and mood perfectly. This is a relaxing game in which to loose your self.

Things I’d do differently: I’d maybe try adding in some subtle in-game elements to the live action shots. Little bunnies running around, some particles to make the live action footage start to blend even more into the in-game world. A great example of this is the time-lapse clouds in the one shot around :35s

I’d also make the trailer about 30s shorter. The live action starts to drag a little around 1m in and it takes a bit too long to hit the climax where the player is revealed to be in the bus.

Overall I loved the vibe in this trailer. It’s peaceful, relaxing, and puts you in the exact mind frame that you’ll be in while playing the game.

Night in the Woods: Kickstarter Trailer

This is one of the best teaser trailers I’ve seen in a while. Whenever I make a trailer, I always try and start out with a strong music track as a base. It’s much easier to build and edit your trailer around a song when it has definitive edit points, different sections, and a build to it that ends in a cool climax.

The edit almost writes its self at that point, and you can just slot in your footage if you have a good foundation to work from. Working the other way by editing footage and then trying to find music to match is a much more difficult process.

Like: This trailer is the perfect length, has incredible music, and teases just enough amazing visuals and game-play that you can’t help but but be immediately absorbed into it’s world.

Things I’d do differently: Um, nothing?

Scott Benson created the trailer, and is an extremely talented artist and animator who has produced some amazing work in the past. I’m super excited to see where Alec and Scott take this project.

The Stanley Parable Launch Trailer

The Stanley Parable is a game about choice and decision making within video games. The entire marketing of this game from it’s earlier trailers to the hilarious blog posts have been perfect examples of how to create interesting compelling content about your game and teasing the viewer without giving away too much…

Davey sums this up in his launch post-Mortem:“if you make the marketing material interesting on its own, it’s irrelevant whether it “sells” your game. Our focus was always on creating content that was on its own fun for people to experience and to be a part of, with essentially 0% of the design aimed at trying to get the game to sell.”

Like: This trailer does a fantastic job of teasing the viewer with enough tidbits about the game to get you interested without revealing anything that would spoil the experience. The slow progression of disorientation after the player leaves the room is great, and the way it builds with ‘Stanley’ being repeated over and over is an awesome way to create tension.

Things I’d do differently: I think the trailer is a tad long, and I’d probably trim 15s or so from the head since we don’t really see the ‘reveal’ that we’re watching the trailer on a screen until around 43s. Some music or build around 1:40 to help emphasize the inception-esque “Let’s begin again” titles would help smooth the transition into the end slate with it’s musical cue.

Hohokum: The Guano Factory

This trailer is more of a music video than a game trailer, and that’s probably why it works so well. It’s not trying to sell you anything, it’s not shoving a message in your face. It’s simply saying, here’s the story of the Guano factory. Enjoy this cool video that’s based on content from our game. There’s a minimal amount of game-play being shown and the focus is on being absorbed into the game’s world, which is what it’s all about.

Like: Amazing flow, editing, animation and just enough of a tease to make me want to watch it again and again. Great music and soundtrack with a nice flow and build. Not surprisingly, this trailer was directed by Scott Benson, who created the Night in the Woods trailer, and has produced some other awesome music videos.

Things I’d change: Too many logos up front for too long. We don’t get into the trailer until around 15s. I always try and integrate logos into the vibe of the trailer if at all possible (unfortunately you can’t do anything about the ESRB, though putting music underneath it is a sneaky way of making it a little more interesting).